Exotic Words


Quite a while ago, Stuart Evers wrote an article for the Guardian that talked about his love of American literature.

“I prefer American English: I like the way it sounds; its rhythms and its cadences. Give me a diner over a café, a sidewalk over a pavement, a bar over a pub and definitely a gas station over a petrol forecourt. Take that “gas station”, for example. Because of its sibilance, it’s almost as though you can hear someone inflating their tyres…A petrol station is functional, a place to pick up charcoal briquettes and wilting cellophane-wrapped flowers; a gas station is a place to pick up a packet of smokes and a hitchhiker with a gun in his waistband.”

I’ve never gotten romantic over gas stations (or petrol forecourts, although those sounds like a nicer place to hangout). Gas stations are just oil-stained concrete and nauseating fumes. I think of old hot dogs and slurpees, not hitchhiker.

For me, a pub conjures up a cozy place, while a bar is seedy. A diner is a side of the stop. You’ll get good greasy food and you’ll sit next to a trucker. A cafe conjures up fancier food — totally different places.

So, from this side of the pond, British words sounds nicer. When I started this post, I thought my point was going to be that other sounds exotic and, perhaps, more enticing. However, when I look at Ever’s examples, I think we’re actually speaking the same language. It’s just what you’re looking for. It sounds like Evers is longing for that gritty experience that American English provides.

What do you think?

PS Jessica Hische’s Q is making me hungry! Mmm, tomato and basil.


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